Did you know "In El Paso, Texas, a hacker broke into the computer network of a local school district, finding a database of about 63,000 students’ Social Security numbers.In Wake County, N.C., school officials accidentally mailed out about 5,000 postcards with students’ Social Security numbers printed on the front.
And in Palatine, Ill., two laptops belonging to a state contractor were stolen from a car, divulging the Social Security numbers of nearly 8,000 special education students."
Did you know that data breaches leave people six times more likely to become victims of identity theft, according to a survey this year by Javelin Research. The main reason that schools collect students' Social Security numbers is for tracking their progress. However, experts say there are less risky ways to identify students. When a child identity theft victim turns 18, they find their credit has been destroyed, preventing them from taking out loans or renting apartments. Imagine turning 18 and discovering that you're not able to move on with your life because someone has destroyed what was suppose to be your fresh start. Social Security numbers are “the single most misused piece of information by criminals perpetrating identity thefts,” according to a technical brief issued last fall by the National Center for Education Statistics, the research arm of the U.S. Department of Education.Yet schools still continue to not only collect students' Social Security numbers but also print them on transcripts, tests, and athletic educational forms. North Dakota students are assigned a 10-digit ID number when they enroll that sufficiently tracks their performance, leaving no need for Social Security numbers, according to Jerry Coleman, director of school finance at the North Dakota Department of Public Instruction.This shows that there is another way and it has been successful. Using a simple random number generator or some kind of pattern to assign students with a personalized ID can save many, many students from identity theft.
“When someone asks for your child’s Social Security number, say no,” said Aaron Titus, chief privacy officer for Identity Finder, which helps organizations protect sensitive data. “I have found about 90 percent of the time, when I push back a little bit, I get my way.”
Information gathered from "In Push For Data, Schools Expose Students to Identity Theft" by Gerry Smith
Smith, Gerry. "In Push For Data, Schools Expose Students to Identity Theft." The Huffington Post, 15 Dec. 2011. Accessed 23 Feb. 2017.